Resilience During COVID-19

Tuesday 14th April 2020 by @JJackson_RN

Things are hard right now. I have studied resilience for nearly 10 years now, and I am still overwhelmed with everything that is happening. I hope that this shows that resilience is not easy for anyone right now. I have had several requests for information, and want to provide something to support nurses. I feel completely inadequate for this- there is nothing I can say to provide more PPE or fewer deaths.

Everyone will be negatively impacted by the pandemic, and resilience is not about not being upset, or denying these difficulties. Rather, resilience can be a bit of a life jacket, to say, what can I do to help myself as much as possible right now? And how can I help myself recover when this is over? Resilience doesn't mean that you are not negatively affected- it means you can move forward in a positive way when the time is right. 

For now, I hope everyone can be gentle with themselves. These tips are evidence from other nurses, and I offer them for a moment of reflection on how we can support ourselves and each other. 

Resilience techniques:


· Have a routine for coming to work, approaching your shift, and leaving work

·Recognize when it’s time to set work aside, you did everything you can

· If you have a partner or other person who can help around the house, delegate as much work as possible to them. This is their role in supporting health services.

· Organize your scrubs or uniforms, keep your bag packed, have a granola bar for your pocket… any type of planning that helps you get through the day

· Schedule regular times to receive some type of support in advance


· Physically and mentally get away from things you find stressful, when you can. This may be as simple as going to the bathroom for a few minutes to collect your thoughts during your shift.

· Take breaks as much as you are able, and try to clear your head whenever possible.

· Help colleagues take breaks by watching their patients for a few minutes

· When you are home, do your best not to think about work

· Limit news intake


· Talk about your experiences and the things you find difficult. This may be with colleagues, other nurses and healthcare professionals, employee assistance programs, a Social Worker or Registered Psychologist, a chaplain, or other supportive person. This is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

· Have mini-debriefs as needed throughout the day, or during handover. Recognize that everyone will need to debrief, including cleaners etc. A chat at the nursing desk is great- doesn't need to be a formal process.

· Don’t hold in your feelings, or pretend to be ok. As the saying goes, this is hard because it is hard, not because you’re not good enough.


· Recognize your limits, and know that you can’t save everyone. Being there for someone is still a huge act of service.

· Try to accept that death is a part of life, not a failure. We can only do so much.

· Remember that palliative care is still care, and that care is never ‘withdrawn’

· Recognize that everyone is under strain, and be quick to forgive if someone has a bad moment

· Enjoy the applause for key workers, positive social media posts, and other acts of gratitude. You deserve them all.


· Take breaks as much as you can

· Foster supportive relationships at work and at home

· Do a physical activity you enjoy while away from work, such as running, yoga, a YouTube fitness class etc.

· Take part in a fun or creative activity, such as video games, reading, crafting, music etc. on your days off.

· Eat as well as you can

· Try to sleep as normally as possible

· Keep an eye on alcohol intake, cannabis use, etc. Avoid using these as primary coping tools.

Getting help

· Ask questions!! We are still here to support each other and learn

· Always time to put on appropriate protective equipment before rushing into a room. The most important person to care for is YOU.

· Ask for help from colleagues, and support other colleagues in turn

· Delegate when you are busy, and help others when you can

· Seek professional help and supports, such as calling your Employee Assistance Program, support line, or seeing a Registered Psychologist, as often as you need to

· Before you go home, check that you and your colleagues are ok

Do the best you can, be gentle with yourself, and know that spring will come- eventually.

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